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HSC scaling is a popular topic to HSC students and parents, and is often an area that is

commonly misunderstood. Scaling is important as it affects all students aspiring to get into
university after the HSC. A commonly misunderstood concept is the relationship between HSC
marks and scaled marks. HSC marks are the marks the Board of Studies awards you, and
appear on your Record of Achievement.

HSC scaling is a popular topic to HSC students and parents, and is often an area that is
commonly misunderstood. Scaling is important as it affects all students aspiring to get into
university after the HSC

Scaled marks versus HSC marks

A commonly misunderstood concept is the relationship between HSC marks and scaled marks.
HSC marks are the marks the Board of Studies awards you, and appear on your Record of
Achievement. These marks determine which performance band you fall in (e.g. Band 6 or E4) for
each of your HSC subjects. These marks measure how well you did according to the subject's
requirements. E.g. if you received a Band 6 in English Advanced, it means your performance
satisfied all the criteria required by the HSC English syllabus to achieve a Band 6. However, in
any year, any amount of HSC students can get a Band 6. For example, in a particularly smart
year, a higher of proportion students may receive Band 6 in English Advanced. It is not how well
you do in your subject, but rather, how well you do relative to other students which determine your
UAI. Here's where your scaled marks come into play.

Your scaled marks will NOT be shown to you at the end of your HSC, as you will only be shown
your HSC marks (aligned marks, to be precise). Ironically, it is your scaled marks which are the
most important determinant to your UAI. Scaled marks are calculated by the UAC (not the BOS)
under a totally different process. Basically, these marks measure your performance relative to
other students. (For a more technically accurate discussion on scaled marks and what they
mean, as well as the mathematics behind UAI calculation, please read our article on the
mechanics of scaling) Remember, your HSC marks are a measure of how well you did in your
subject, but your scaled marks measure how well you did relative to other students. It is your
scaled marks which are used to calculate your UAI, not your HSC marks.

Through the process of scaling, the UAC converts your raw examination marks (the actual marks
you received in your external and moderated internal assessment) into scaled marks.These
scaled marks are then added up to arrive at your aggregate mark (students refer to this as your
'aggregate') out of 500. The UAI is simply a percentile rank of your aggregate, which is the total of
your scaled marks in your top 10 units.

How can knowledge of HSC scaling help me?

Understanding the process allows you to plan your HSC, to an extent, in such a way as to make
scaling work to your advantage. For example, if you enjoy maths, you should choose Maths
Extension 2 in order to take advantage of its enormous scaling effect. Similarly, if you enjoy
science, you should take Chemistry and Physics, as they scale relatively well.

In other words, comparing subjects in terms of their scaling effect can assist you with your
decision as to which subjects to take for your HSC. In order to quantitatively compare the scaling
effect of different courses, you will need to get familiar with reading statistics published by UAC.
The rest of this article will highlight the important things to note.

Reading 'scaled means

Firstly, what are 'scaled means'? The scaled mean for each subject is the average scaled mark
received by all students who took that subject for that year. For example, in 2008, the scaled
mean for Maths Extension 2 was 43 out of 50. This means that among the Maths Extension 2
students in 2008, the average of their scaled marks was 43 out of 50. This subject has
traditionally been one of the highest scaled subjects available for the HSC. In terms of reading
these scaling statistics, generally the higher the scaled mean, the higher the scaling effect.

Each year, the UAC publishes a scaling report which contains important scaling statistics for all
HSC subjects eligible to contribute to a UAI. For more information, read about UAC scaling
statistics. In the report, there is an important section called Table A3, which is a table setting out
the scaled means of all subjects.

To illustrate the effect of scaling, in 2008, a Maths Extension 2 student only needs to be in the top
46% out of all Maths Extension 2 students to get a scaled mark of 45 out of 50 (or 90/100). A
Maths (2 unit) student would need to be in the top 3% out of all Maths (2 unit) students in order to
achieve the same result. These facts are read off the UAC scaling report. In the 99th percentile, a
Maths (2 unit) student receives a scaled mark of 46.1 out of 50. In the 75th percentile, a Maths
Extension 2 student receives a scaled makr of 46.2 out of 50. Arguably it is easier to be above
average in Maths Extension 2 than to be near the top of the state in Maths (2 unit). This is the
main benefit derived from choosing high scaling subjects.

Effect on UAI calculation

Simply put, the higher the total of your scaled marks, the higher your UAI will be. Sometimes
when students choose subjects with lower scaled means, do spectacularly in their HSC (e.g.
receive Band 6 for all of their units) but receive a UAI that is lower than what they had expected.

For example, if you did English Standard, IPT, Legal Studies and Biology, and scored 90 in all of
your subjects, your UAI would be around 94 in 2008. While this is in no way a poor UAI, if you
received the same HSC (aligned) marks for English advanced, Maths Extension 1 & 2,
Chemistry and Physics, your UAI would be in the vicinity of 99. Again this is because of the
scaling effect across different subjects. While all subjects are different and some will be more
difficult than others, the best approach to dealing with HSC scaling is to choose the subjects you
are interested in, while giving consideration to the scaling effect of your choices. (For more
information, read our article on HSC subject selection)

Dux College is a Sydney based HSC Learning Center specializing in HSC tutoring. Our staff are
experts in frequently asked topics like HSC Scaling so feel free to ask any question you may
have. Our Maths, Physics and Chemistry tuition programs are intensive and results driven, aimed
at giving our students the skills to achieve Band 6, and their highest potential UAI.

Dux College Pty ltd
388 Horseley Drive,
Fairfield, Sydney
NWS
2165
Ph no- (02)80076824
http://www.duxcollege.com.au